Weight gain and the menopause

This month we are going to focus on body image and self-esteem in Our Menopause Our Way. This is a really important area for us to tackle and one that comes up so much when I talk to women. I can’t tell you how many times a client has said to me

“I want to look better and I don’t know where to start. I never used to put on weight so easily. I really don’t like me”

This makes me so sad, but I get it. I’ve been there. I can remember watching the number on the scales go up it seemed almost daily; I can remember my clothes feeling tighter; I can remember looking at myself in the mirror and hating what I saw. I felt like nothing I did made me feel better – I hated the way I looked and the way I felt. Then I got more depressed by my body. I didn’t want to show it off because I was ashamed of it.

So I know how this feels but why do we put on weight at menopause and why does the way we look bother us so much?

It is simple …. HORMONES or lack of them!

This isn’t a surprise. Do you know how they work and what happens when they reduce?

As we enter peri-menopause our ovaries and adrenal glands dramatically reduce the production of progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. We lose all of these hormones by varying degrees and that impacts the way our bodies function.

  • Testosterone is responsible for our energy levels, our muscle mass and our body fat, our tolerance for exercise, our mood and our stamina.
  • Progesterone is responsible for our metabolic rate so we can burn calories when we are inactive, it stabilises our blood-sugar helping our bodies to use and eliminate fat and excess fluid.
  • Oestrogen is responsible for giving our skin its elasticity, it helps our balance and coordination, our bone density and our moods.

As you can see, when these hormones reduce the physical impacts of how our bodies change can have huge impacts for us psychologically. At menopause we start to see our “hour glass” figures change into apples as our body starts to store fat as it can’t break down the sugar; or we feel bloated because our bodies are less efficient at eliminating fluids; our skin starts to show signs of ageing as it loses elasticity and we are less likely to be able to make our gym sessions count as our muscle density reduces and our energy levels falter.

Sound familiar? When we start to not recognise ourselves and don’t like the changes to our bodies, then we can start to feel less confident in ourselves – women often start to feel invisible and yes I felt that, but I realised I was making myself invisible. I secretly wanted to hide. I didn’t want anyone to notice me because I didn’t like me. I didn’t think I was worthy or good enough anymore so I stopped putting myself forward and I started shrinking into the background.

Once we understand the science then we can say NO MORE! There are things you can do to combat these feelings and the impacts of the menopause but you need to start now. In Western societies women often view the menopause with dread, fearing it signifies the decline or our feminine allure which is so important in our youth-oriented society; but it doesn’t have to be that way. The menopause is not something to dread – it is simply puberty in reverse and is a time when you can find your way back to you.

What’s my top tip?
There are many things you can do, but we know you can’t turn back time or stop the ageing process. That is natural and we need to embrace it and celebrate it. Start looking after yourself and your body – there really is no time like the present. Commit to eating healthy, drinking more water and cutting back on what’s bad for us (i.e., smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and high sugary/salted processed foods). It’s as simple as that – eat for the health of your body. The changes you make now will help you as your embark on the second half of your wonderful life.

More information and help
Join my Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2795782627318675 to get more hints and tips on how to thrive through the menopause, or checkout my website for the many courses and programmes we run to support you or email me at jeanette@phoenixwellness.co.uk if you’d like to talk about 1:1 coaching and support.